To increase access to food and housing among vulnerable populations in Delaware and Maryland, ChristianaCare is providing $1.1 million through its Community Investment Fund to 13 nonprofit organizations.
This is the second round of grants since the Community Investment Fund’s launch in 2019. ChristianaCare is partnering with organizations that provide resources for healthy meals, a safe place to sleep, and homes that are healthy, safe and affordable, reflecting the findings of ChristianaCare’s Community Health Needs Assessment.
In Delaware, 12.6% of households are food insecure, meaning they either don’t know how to provide food for their family or can’t. Likewise, affordable housing, as well as appropriate housing for individuals with physical and behavioral health needs, has become increasingly scarce, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This year’s Community Investment Fund awardees represent a mighty group of organizations working tirelessly to address the social determinants of health, specifically around food and housing access,” said Erin Booker, LPC, vice president of Behavioral Health & Social Care Integration at ChristianaCare.
“These organizations were already doing tremendous work, and with these funds, they will have a greater reach and impact.”
Increasing access to food and housing
More than 60 community organizations applied for up to $100,000 in grant funding for yearlong projects that include expanding the delivery of farm produce boxes to older people in need; nutritional training and food preparation workshops; and weatherization and home repair projects. This year, grants have been awarded to programs in New Castle County and Sussex County, Delaware, and in Cecil County, Maryland.
The following organizations received funding:
- West End Neighborhood House/Bright Spot Farm – Teaching young people how to prepare healthy meals using fresh foods grown at Bright Spot Farm, an urban farm in New Castle, Delaware.
- Lori’s Hands – Improving the lives of Delawareans living with chronic illness by assisting with companionship, meal preparation, grocery shopping and other activities of daily living.
- Community Collaboration of Delaware, Inc. – Helping residents of five sober living houses learn how to plan, shop and prepare healthy food for themselves.
- Milton Community Food Pantry – Reducing food insecurity in Northeastern Sussex County and Southeastern Kent County, Delaware, with bimonthly meal service and food distributions four times per month.
- Food Bank of Delaware – Increasing access to fresh produce for low-income seniors through a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program.
- Project New Start, Inc. – Assisting with the transition of people from incarceration to the community.
- Sussex County Habitat for Humanity – Keeping families in Sussex County healthier by improving energy efficiency, safety and accessibility of homes.
- Bayside Community Network, Inc. – Enhancing health and safety for members of the disabled community in Cecil County by making repairs to group homes.
- Children & Families First – Providing access to nutritious food year-round for children in Kent and Sussex County.
- On Our Own of Cecil County – Offering short-term housing and peer support for unsheltered individuals and those in crisis in Cecil County.
- Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware – Providing daily hot meals to Boys & Girls Club of Delaware members in New Castle County and developing an outreach for the homeless and other vulnerable, food insecure families and individuals in the county.
- Cornerstone West Community Development Corporation – Addressing food insecurity in Wilmington’s West Side by promoting local food through farmers markets, community gardens and open spaces.
- Communities In Schools of Delaware – Helping more than 500 families in Delaware’s three counties stay healthy, nourished and housed through assistance and services at school sites.
Funding will allow the organizations to create new programs or expand existing ones proven to be successful.
Reducing violence and recidivism with Project New Start
A $100,000 grant from the Community Investment Fund means Project New Start, Inc., will be able to help 16 previously incarcerated people get the housing assistance, employment training and case management services needed to return to their communities and families.
“We know that for people to be successful, they need housing that is safe,” said Priscilla Turgon, founder and executive director of Project New Start, Inc., which operates a 10-week intensive re-entry program to help people newly released from prison make better decisions and increase their chances of securing a job.
“They need tools to help them make better decisions. Having somewhere to live and something to eat makes all the difference.”
Providing shelter and support with On Our Own of Cecil County
With funding from ChristianaCare, On Our Own of Cecil County, Inc., is providing hotel vouchers, meals and personal hygiene kits for unsheltered people, including those in crisis situations, individuals leaving incarceration, mental health treatment or recovery houses.
“We have a whole umbrella of services for people who are experiencing an emergency … It’s scooping them up and saying, ‘Hey, we have you.’ And let’s see who else can help you, too.”
—Cerise Smith, On Our Own, Cecil County, Maryland
The short-term hotel vouchers will complement the existing wellness, education and peer-based services On Our Own offers, including resource coordination and support groups.
“We have a whole umbrella of services for people who are experiencing an emergency, are back on the streets or in domestic violence situations,” said Cerise Smith, assistant director of On Our Own of Cecil County.
“It’s scooping them up and saying, ‘Hey, we have you.’ And let’s see who else can help you, too.”
New technology will capture data and measure value
Grant recipients are using the Unite Us Payments digital solution to capture standardized data and outcomes, and measure each grant’s success. This solution has proven instrumental to keeping projects on track and promoting connections across organizations.
“The incorporation of the Unite Delaware platform is not only allowing us to connect clients with more resources, when needed, but is also teaching pre-health professionals – our student interns – about the importance of effective resource navigation,” said Maggie Ratnayake, LPCMH, ATR, NCC, executive director of Lori’s Hands, which is establishing a pilot project with Primary Care at Home to provide comprehensive support for community members living with chronic illness.